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Spotted Cycads
Rev. Geoffrey F. Squire

About four years ago I bought two almost identical Cycad revoluta in pots from a plant sale in Cornwall. One was planted out at the base of a wall and the other was planted in a 9" pot so that it could be given shelter in the winter.
The one in open ground has grown slightly faster than the one in a pot; otherwise, they have behaved in a very similar manner. For the first two years they remained exactly as they were when purchased, but then the leaves on both started to show yellow spots, as thought they had been near weed-killer spray. Gradually all the leaves turned yellow and then looked completely dead for some months. Then, late last summer, they both showed signs of growth and about a dozen fresh, green, and much larger leaves emerged quite rapidly.
They remained like that until late summer this year, but now both are again showing signs of yellow spotting. This can not be due to frost, or to salt-laden winds, or to weed-killers, and they are unlikely to have suffered drought. The one in a pot has been kept drier in winter than the one in the open ground, so being too wet would also not appear to be the cause. Both are kept in semi-shade conditions.
Is this spotting, yellowing, and dying back of the leaves something that happens naturally before new growth begins, or is some other factor likely to be involved?
Yucca gloriosa and their varieties also seem to be behaving in a strange manner in recent years. Many of them seem to be flowing in mid-winter (with four in full bloom on New Years Day), while Cordyline Australis flower so profusely that the weight of the flowers/seeds break off some branches.
In various parts of the Westcountry, Phormium, Osteospermum, Arum Lilies, Agapanthus, Mesembryantheum, Carpobrotus edulis, and a few Cordyline australis are growing completely wild, as escapees from cultivation, and there is at least one place where Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cactus are growing on cliffs. Are these things connected with the seemingly unusual behavior of some species in cultivation, or are they quite normal? Some put it down to global warming, but I am rather skeptical. It was only 13 years ago, in February 1987, that the Southwest experienced its lowest temperatures since records began. Severe frost caused damage to or even killed outright things that had been growing for 100 years or more. I would enjoy hearing what others think.

 

Conservation Through Cultivation Update
Réne Coativy


1. Dracena undivisa
2. Rhopalostylis population
3. Rhopalostylis sapida Akaroa
4. R. sapida with Cyathea meddularis

In response to Andrew Cartwright‘s interesting article ‚Conservation Through Cultivation‘ I would like to add a few words first on the conservation status of Rhopalostylis sapida on the New Zealand mainland. I am just back from New Zealand where I saw hundreds of thousands of them although their natural territory (which is really everywhere on the two islands) has been dramatically reduced. This forest clearance was begun by the first European settlers and has never stopped even today, especially in the Nelson to Picton area where entire mountainous forests are being cleared for pine planting. Rhopalostylis sapida seem not to be in danger except in a few remote spots where the remaining population is in so low in numbers that its long term survival is questionable.
In the case of the Akaroa (Banks Peninsula-Christchurch-Southern Island) remnant population the whole area was cleared for sheep grazing and some hundred mature palms are confined in a very scenic gully with a stream along which they grow. I must report that there are many seedlings and small palms to 5 feet under the thick canopy though strangely enough there is no size in between this and the adults which would mean a non regeneration gap of at least 35 to 40 years. Why? The area has been recently fenced and therefore some predators like sheep and goats are no longer able to enter the area and eat the young plants. There is no other Rhopalostylis sapida population for hundreds of miles away in other areas like Paparoa National Park in the southern island and along the Heritage Trail between Stratford and Taumarunui in the northern island or in the Kauri National Park in the far north. Rhopalostylis sapida, together with tree ferns (Cyathea cooperi and C. medullaris depending on the latitude) is still the major component of the forest and the landscape. The result is truly outstanding and unforgettable and I strongly recommend anyone visiting New Zealand to see them for themselves.
As far as the reintroduction of palms is concerned there are excellent examples nearby us and those who attended the last excellent EPS meeting will agree with me that the best example is the naturalization of Trachycarpus fortunei in the Swiss-Italian Ticino along Lake Maggiore where they grow by the million in stunning settings. Also we should bear in mind that a lot of amateurs are already growing threatened palms in more favourable climates i.e. Madagascan palms in California, Cuban palms in Florida, Andean palms in New Zealand etc. Closer to us in southern Europe endangered palms that must normally be nurtured indoors, thrive outdoors even on the French Riviera. Brahea aculeata, Chamadorea glaucifolia, C. klotschiana and C. hooperiana, C. microspadix and C. radicalis, Phoenix theophrastii, Rhopalostylis baueri and R. sapida among those you cite. The situation is not desperate, although we must remain alert.

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